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Middle East Illusions: Including Peace in the Middle East? Reflections on Justice and Nationhood 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0742526990
ISBN-10: 0742526992
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chomsky's scathing indictments of U.S. foreign policy have long divided readers, and this collection of essays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to do the same. Written during the last 30 years, these pieces display many characteristics of Chomsky's thought: a deep mistrust of U.S. and Israeli intentions and a desire to change the course of history. Chomsky is erudite, and some of the points are now standard in discussion about the Middle East, such as the contradiction of Israel being both a Jewish state and a democracy. But Chomsky reprints numerous dated talks-and some of these, while interesting historical relics, contain statements that haven't stood the test of time, such as a 1969 observation that "both international and domestic factors are more conducive to a peaceful resolution of the conflict than has been the case for some time." More recent pieces attack the Oslo peace process, which he sees as "neocolonialist" and resembling South African apartheid. Chomsky's alternative-a binational state-seems highly unlikely given the violence of the past few years. This book is also intriguing for what it omits: in his historical roundup, for instance, Chomsky fails to mention violent Arab riots against Jews before Israel's founding in 1948. For some leftist critics of the U.S. and Israel, this book will ring true. But for many readers-perhaps even some who read Chomsky's bestselling 9-11-it will seem one-sided.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Chomsky is one of the great intellectuals of the twentieth-century Left, whose Peace in the Middle East? (1974), though tiring reading, was a brilliant indictment of American and Israeli policy toward the Arab world in general and the Palestinian people in particular. It is republished here, augmented by 90 pages of new writings about the Middle East. Chomsky said a number of interesting things about Israel in 1974. While those remain interesting historically, they say less about the current situation than he seems to believe they do. Turgid at times, the new chapters will thrill his admirers, however, for they bristle with the daring comparisons (e.g., repeatedly likening recent American-Israeli Mideast peace plans to apartheid), characteristic of Chomsky, that make even the like-minded Gore Vidal look like a staid centrist. The concluding discussion of 9/11 in the context of America's animosity toward Iraq is especially timely. While the book may date quickly now that the war is a reality, it adds a deep, booming voice to the antiwar chorus. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 1st edition (March 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742526992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742526990
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,706,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Chapters 1-5 and the bulk of the final chapters of 6-9 are about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first five are based on Chomsky's 1974 treatise "Peace In the Middle East." In Chapter one based on a harangue delivered at MITin 1969 attacks the concept of "retaliation" as contributing to security.He goes over the tribalalistic policy of "retaliation" launched by the Irgun and how their atrocities contributed to the escalation of violence. Of course, the mainstream Yishuv and its army, the Hagannah committed alot of atrocities too. I know Chomsky recognizes this and would probably today not repeat the rather kindly view of the Labor zionists and their intentions that he takes in Chapter one.
Israel is a state where non-Jews cannot own 92 percent of the land within pre-1967 Israel. Israeli Arabs lack the great resources in education, employment, housing, land that accords to Israeli Jews because of their exclusion from military service. He gives the example of the Druze Israeli army vetran who was not allowed to open a business in the Jewish town of Karmiel which had been expropropriated from Israeli Arabs on the grounds that it would be a military base but then it was converted into a Jewish settlement. He writes that Uri Davis, the Israeli activist was sentenced to 5 months in prison for entering this settlement without a permit. He goes over some early Israeli "fact-building" in the territories. He quotes John Cooley of the Christian Science monitor on the expropriation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land in Gaza. He quotes a report that most of the village of Aqraba on the West Bank was defoliated and its land handed over to a nearby Jewish settlement.
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Format: Paperback
Part 1 is a reprint of Chomsky's 1974 book, Peace in the Middle East? examining the 1967 war and its results. Part 2 looks at the same themes of Israel, Palestine and the US role, from the perspective of 2002. Part 3 studies the world after 9/11 and the `war on terror'.

Israel, like most US dependencies, has huge inequality, great and growing poverty, high and rising unemployment, falling wages and worsening working conditions. It constantly expands its illegal settlements in the occupied territories, cuts the Palestinians' water quotas, and imprisons Palestinians in areas sealed by a net of bypass roads meant for Jews only.

Israel organises torture, terror, the destruction of tens of thousands of homes, and detentions without trial. Under Israeli occupation, Palestine's unemployment has doubled, investment has halved, income is down 20%, and GNP is down 40%. When the Security Council reaffirmed that the 4th Geneva Convention applies to occupied territories, Clinton abstained.

In mid-September 2000, the US shipped attack helicopters to Israel, and US Marines conducted joint exercises with elite units of the Israeli Defence Force. On 29 September, Sharon made his infamous, government-authorised visit to the Temple Mount, with a thousand armed guards. On 3 October, Israel signed its biggest arms deal for a decade, buying 35 Blackhawk military helicopters from the USA. In February 2001, Israel bought nine Apache attack helicopters. Curiously, this huge backing for Israel went virtually unreported.

In December 2001, the USA vetoed a Security Council Resolution calling for international monitors to oversee a reduction in violence. The USA has consistently rejected a Palestinian state: as elsewhere, nationalism is its enemy.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite what the previous reviewer implies by attempting to label this book as anti-jew/anti-american, there are no simplistic answers to the complex multi-perspective problem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. BOTH sides are at fault and both sides need to own up to their complicity, and one can either continue to take sides and cast blame based on past slights and offenses or one can proceed to attempt to move forward into the future intent on finding a solution to this miserable situation that has affected the security of not just the region but the world. Chomsky argues that "socialist binationalism offer the best long-range hope for a just peace in the region".
Don't just read one book that supports your bias at the expense of others if you are going to attempt to gain some real insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict...Chomsky is one of the leading voices on the left, but I also recommend balancing his viewpoint by checking out some of right-leaning conservative David Horowitz's commentaries on his Frontpage site ...read it carefully and you may be surprised at the revealing statements made by some of Israel's earliest leaders that hint at agendas not usually discussed and highlighted by more mainstream commentators and historians putting forth "official" versions of this convoluted story.
Suffice it to say that both polar opposites, Chomsky on the left and Horowitz on the right, have intelligent and valuable insights to add to the discussion...the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. For an entirely Israeli-hawk viewpoint then go ahead and read Netanyahu's "A Durable Peace" as the previous reviewer recommends...but to only read that alone is akin to wearing blinders while denying any other perspective.
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